The boom of European players in the NBA
The last three NBA drafts have been full of surprises and one of the biggest is the boom of European players that are drafted but stay overseas. A total of 33 players that were drafted during that stretch stayed with their teams.
We have had great ambassadors like Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki that have given NBA fans lots to talk about and with such a boom of players being drafted recently, we should expect many more European stars to come to the NBA and make an immediate impact.
Since 2011, teams have chosen 51 players from Europe. That adds up to 17 percent of total NBA players in the Draft that are from Europe. Almost one in every five.
Due to the importance of European players in the league, Cowbell Kingdom has decided to rank the best young players in the moment in a hypothetical mock draft. Here is our first Top 10:
1 – Juancho Hernangómez (Movistar Estudiantes), 6-foot-9, Power Forward, 1995, Spain.
Last game: Seven points (2/5 FG, 2/2 FT), 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block in 25 minutes.
Hernangómez has played another great week in the ACB. In 10 games, the athletic forward has shown a lot of improvement and has been the talk of many scouts throughout Europe. He is averaging nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes per game. It’s worth mentioning that he is the younger brother of Willy Hernangómez, who was selected 35th overall in last year’s draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
2- Nikola Ivanovic (KK Mega Leks), 6-foot-4, Point Guard, 1994, Montenegro.
Last game: 25 points (9/11 FG, 5/6 FT), four assists, three steals in 30 minutes.
The guard from Montenegro is a young-veteran player. He is only 21-years-old but began playing in the Adriatic League four years ago. Also, Ivanovic has played with his National Team for several years now. This season, he is showing a lot of improvement in shooting and passing. He is a dynamic player with a lot of talent. He is automatically eligible for next year’s NBA Draft. He is second in scoring, fifth in assists and seventh in efficiency.
3- Vassilis Charalampopoulos. (Panathinaikos), 6-foot-9, Small Forward, 1997, Greece.
Last game: 11 points (3/4 FG, 4/5 FT), four rebounds, three assists in 20 minutes.
It is not easy to be part of the rotation in a team like Panathinaikos, but the young man from Greece has earned his minutes. Charalampopoulos can play Small Forward and Power Forward thanks to his body and ability to shoot. He is eighth in the rotation of a team who is a contender for the Euroleague. Keep an eye on him.
4- Marius Grigonis (ICL Manresa). 6-foot-6, Small Forward, 1994, Lithuania.
Last game: six points (2/3 FG, 2/2 FT), three rebounds, one assist in 20 minutes.
The Lithuanian forward has shot consistently from the perimeter (5-of-7) in the first four games of the league. Grigonis has shown improvement under Pedro Martínez, who is one of the best Spanish coaches in Spain. Last season, Grigonis averaged 7.6 points in 21.2 minutes and this year he is averaging 9.5 points in 22.7 minutes.
5- Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (KK Mega Leks), 6-foot-6, Small Forward, 1995, France.
Last game: 12 points (4/11 FG), two rebounds, four assists and four steals in 23 minutes.
The young player from France is one of the sensations in the Adriatic League right now. Luwawu-Gabarrot has shown a lot of potential, physical skills and a great shooting ability. He is only 20-years-old but he played professional basketball since he was 17. Luwawu-Gabarrot is one of the best shooters in the league but also he has a great skill set to be a very good defensive player. The Frenchman averages 14.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game in 30 minutes. Also, his 44.7 percent beyond the arc ranks him 15th in the league and fourth in scoring.
6- Ioannis Papapetrou (Olympiakos), 6-foot-7, Small Forward, 1994, Greece.
Last game: 16 points (7/12 FG) and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes.
The second Greek in this ranking has a similar type of game to his fellow national teammate. Papapetrou can shoot, help in the paint and has a lot of talent. The Small Forward is the sixth man in the rotation of a big-time team in the Greek League. Now it is time to be a consistent player in the Euroleague, where he only has played 37 minutes in three games.
7- Paul Zipser (FC Bayern Munich), 6-foot-8, Shooting Guard, 1994, Germany.
Last game: 13 points (4/8 FG, 2/2 FT), five rebounds, eight assists in 21 minutes.
German basketball is growing. This is a reality. Players like Dennis Schroeder, Tibor Pleiss and Robin Benzing are testaments to the growth of German basketball. The swingman is the guy that does it all for Bayern Munich. He can score, rebound at a good rate and pass the ball. He is eligible for the upcoming draft and it will be surprising if NBA teams don’t use a second round pick on him.
8- Kenan Sipahi (Pinar Karsiyaka), 6-foot-6, Point Guard, 1995, Kosovo/ Turkey.
Last game: six points (1/2 FG, 4/6 FT) and two assists in 15 minutes.
The Kosovo native has played professional basketball since he was 16-years-old. Now, he is 20 and has gained a lot of experience at a very high level. He has a big body to play the point but also has good instincts to play basketball. Sipahi has made some crazy plays and has a lot of confident in himself. Last season, he was sidelined for three months but this season, Sipahi is motivated to prove he can be a great player and impress scouts to make a case for a potential career in the NBA.
9- Darío Brizuela (Movistar Estudiantes), 6-foot-3, Shooting Guard, 1994, Spain.
Last game: 25 points (8/9 FG, 3/4 FT), three rebounds and four steals in 25 minutes.
Two years ago, Darío Brizuela was playing in the fourth division in Spain. He had shown good skills but he hadn’t had the opportunity to shine. In his last game in the ACB, Brizuela had the greatest game of his career. He scored from everywhere (6/6 from three) and he was the MVP of the week. He is small for a shooting guard but his offensive skillset are really good.
10- Nikola Jankovic (KK Mega Leks), 6-foot-9, Power Forward, 1994, Serbia.
Last week: 16 points (6/8 FG, 4/8 FT), seven rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes.
Not a lot of players refuse to sign a contract with the great Red Star from Belgrade. But Jankovic did it when he was 18-years-old. He has a lot of talent and strength down in the post.
Other notable players: Ognjen Jaramaz (KK Mega Leks), Boris Dallo (Antibes), Rade Zagorac (KK Mega Leks), Guerschon Yabusele (Rouen) and Luka Doncic (Real Madrid).